Personal Injury FAQs
The personal injury claims process can be lengthy, complex, and overwhelming. It’s normal to have questions. Your attorney is your best source of information and legal expertise, but we’ve compiled the answers to some of the questions we hear most below.
Do I need a personal injury attorney?
Not every accident requires an attorney. Some less serious cases, such as accidents that caused property damage but no injuries, can be handled on your own. However, personal injury can quickly become complex.
Some reasons you may consider hiring a personal injury attorney include:
- You or a loved one suffered serious injuries
- Someone else caused your accident
- The other party’s insurance company isn’t willing to offer fair compensation
- You are unsure of what to do next
An attorney can help you compile evidence and medical records, negotiate with insurance providers, answer your questions regarding the claims process, and represent you in court if necessary. If you are unsure of whether you need an attorney, it doesn’t hurt to call for a free consultation to find out whether you have a case.
How much will it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
The Advocates work on a contingency basis. This means that there are zero upfront costs to hire an attorney. The eventual fee you will pay your attorney will be calculated as a percentage of your settlement. You only pay your attorney if they win your case and you collect a settlement.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
Every personal injury case is different. Some cases can be settled in a matter of months, while others might take years. The length of your case will depend on several factors:
- The severity of your injuries
- How long your medical treatment takes
- The willingness of the other party to settle
- The court’s caseload, if your case moves to litigation
In order to settle your claim, you must be finished with medical treatment for your injuries. Your settlement serves to reimburse you for your medical bills, so you must have treatment finished before your case can move forward. Additionally, if the other party’s insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, your claim may be taken to court, which extends the life of your case considerably.
It is best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident, so that your case can move forward in a timely manner.
Do I have a good case? How much money can I expect?
The best way to know if you have a case is to speak with an attorney. They can assess liability and the severity of your injuries to help you understand your options.
The amount your settlement will be worth depends on the extent of your damages.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
Every state has a time limit on personal injury claims, known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for your case will depend on your state and the kind of accident you were involved in. In most cases, the statute of limitations will be between 1 and 6 years from the date of your accident.
How do my medical bills get paid while I wait for my case to settle?
There are a few routes you can take to ensure your medical bills are not sent to collections while you wait for your case to settle:
- Health insurance
- The other party’s auto insurance
- Med-pay or PIP
- Liens or payment plans with the medical provider
The first method of paying medical bills is your own health insurance. Depending on your policy, your insurance may cover all or a portion of your expenses.
If you were involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, the other party’s auto insurance should have bodily injury liability coverage. This should pay for your medical expenses related to the crash, as long as liability is clear.
Your own auto insurance policy may have med-pay or PIP coverage, depending on your state. Some states require insurance providers to include one of these options on policies. Others allow you to opt in or out of the coverage. These coverage options pay up to a certain amount of your accident-related medical expenses. If you are unsure whether you have this coverage, check your insurance policy or speak with your agent.
Once your insurance coverage has been exhausted, you and/or your attorney may be able to work out a deal with your medical providers. You may be able to set up liens, which allow you to pay the providers after you receive your settlement. If the provider will not set up a lien with you, they may offer payment plans to keep your bills from going to collections.
It is important to keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for your medical bills. Your attorney can help you explore your options so that your bills do not go unpaid.
Who pays the settlement money in a personal injury case?
A common misconception about personal injury cases is that the plaintiff is “suing” an ordinary person, or that personal injury attorneys go after the “little guys.” In reality, personal injury claims go up against big insurance corporations and their deep pockets.
In many cases, regardless of coverage limits, insurance providers will do whatever they can to avoid paying out fair settlements to accident victims. A personal injury attorney protects your rights and helps you obtain compensation for the damages you’ve incurred after an accident.
What should I do after an accident?
There are important steps you should take after any accident in order to preserve your right to a claim. Additionally, many states have hit-and-run laws requiring you to remain at the scene of an accident and perform specific duties before you are cleared to leave.
After being involved in an accident, be sure to do the following:
- Move your car out of traffic if possible
- Call 911 and ensure anyone with serious injuries gets medical attention
- File a police report
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Document the scene, your vehicle, and any injuries through pictures and videos
- Get contact information from witnesses
- Notify your own auto insurance provider
- Seek treatment for your injuries
- Consider contacting a personal injury attorney